2.2 Email Communication for the VOPE

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Setting up a Listserv (mailing list) is one of the easiest and most cost effective (read free) start-up requirements of a VOPE.  Mailing lists are popular because VOPE members access and pass on information via their email, a medium that most people are comfortable with.  The drawback with a typical listserv is that you are not always able to search for information as easily (it comes down to searching through a ton of email). There is commercial listserv software available, for which there are free versions that support up to 500 recipients. Popular paid listserv software with free versions available examples are L-soft Listserv and Groupmail Free. However, their functionality is replicated just as efficiently by free online applications such as Yahoo Groups and/or Google Groups.

It is also possible to set up a distribution list in Microsoft Outlook, but poses the risk that your entire listserv is usually located on a local computer and not online, risking all if the computer crashes. Depending on your email provider there might also be a limit to the number of recipients per email or in time.

Any listserv requires some degree of management – approving requests to join and post, removing and banning members, managing spam and legitimate mail stuck in spam filters, and appointing moderators to assist in managing the listserv. Content moderation is the most important of these management duties.  Although most platforms hosting these free listservs (e.g. Yahoo, Gmail etc.) have their own user agreements, it is imperative that you also document your own VOPE’s set of rules for the mailing list.  It is also important to keep content relevant to the scope of your VOPE, as even the most well-managed listservs get spammed with inappropriate content from time to time.

Keep in mind that no one should receive your mails unless they have requested them explicitly, and there should be a very clear and user friendly unsubscribe / opt-out process.  Once your members have joined one of your mailing lists, you must obtain their explicit permission to add them to other lists, even if these lists are also M&E or VOPE related.

The ideal is a listserv with the search capability of an online forum – it is a good idea to imbed your mailing list functionality into the Terms of Reference  for your website development or forum – and the advantages of taking this approach are multiple:

Your membership module can be directly linked to your mailing list – when a member updates their email on their membership profile, your mailing list is automatically updated;

  • The listserv is more easily managed from a central location instead of having to log in elsewhere;
  • You can more readily search for specific themes/topics if the mailing lists, can do more complicated searches and
  • As explained in the Website Section of the VOPE toolkit, an embedded mailing list will generate content for your website which will, in turn, automatically improve your website’s search engine ranking.

To read more:

* TOP RESOURCE: Running a Yahoo Group Listserv is Free – this brilliant Guide by GO! Onderwijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap takes you through all the essentials.

* How to use Yahoo! Groups. Accessed online 18/03/2014 from: http://www.ginconet.eu/sites/default/files/conferences/izmir/presentations/P-W2.1-How_to_use_yahoo_groups.pdf

Tools

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wikiHow has put together a step by step instruction guide on how to create a Listserv in Gmail (Free). How to make a Mailing List in Gmail. Accessed online 18/03/2014 from: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Mailing-List-in-Gmail

* A YouTube video on how to create a mailing list subscription pop-up from your blog or website. How to create a mailing list subscription pop up from your blog or website using Mail Chimp. Accessed online 18/03/2014 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76jzGPwHMD8

readwrite has put together a Non-Profits Web Toolkit which contains information on various free listservs, including Google, Yahoo Topica, CircleUp, CitizenSpeak, and some paid options like Groundspring.  The toolkit Includes an overview of email list tools. Non-profits Web Tool Kit. Accessed online 18/03/2014 from: http://readwrite.com/2007/09/13/non-profits_web_tool_kit#awesm=~oySJ8ONhydwix5

* If all else fails – Microsoft Outlook allows for the creation of a Contact Group (distribution list). Create and Edit a Contact Group (formerly distribution list). Accessed online 18/03/2014 from: http://office.microsoft.com/en-za/outlook-help/create-and-edit-a-contact-group-formerly-distribution-lists-HA010354963.aspx

Examples

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Here are some examples that will be useful in managing your Listserv:

  • The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is a good example of an organization which has embedded their email archive in their website:  The American Evaluation Association Email Archives. Accessed online 18/03/2014        http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs014/1100694346064/archive/1101943350484.html
  • The South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA) have put together rules and regulations for their Listserve and can be modified for your VOPE. SAMEA List Serve Rules. Accessed online 18/03/2014          http://www.samea.org.za/samea-5.phtml

 

FRENCH RESOURCES

Software

Cette page explique comment envoyer un e-mail personnalisé sans avoir à les gérer un par un:

Utiliser le processus de fusion et publipostage pour envoyer des messages électroniques personnalisés à votre liste d’adresses de messagerie

Ce site offre des conseils sur la façon de gérer des listes de diffusion efficace:

Les listes de diffusion : L’infrastructure technique

D’autres exemples:

Créer et gérer des listes de diffusion

Invitation to give Feedback

Have you used any of the resources recommended in this post? Tell others what you thought about it by leaving a comment below.

 Acknowledgements, Licensing, Attributions

Full details about the acknowledgements, licensing and attributions of this content here.

 Disclaimer

Note that depending on the size, development phase and purpose of your VOPE, the material presented in this post may need to be contextualised for your specific purposes. Also take note of the full toolkit disclaimer here.

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